I’m waiting for my kids to finish up an extremely important video game. If they don’t, apparently it will be catastrophic. Everything they have worked so hard for will be destroyed – the levels completed, the points accrued, the hours spent ignoring me. It will all be for naught.
I wish I saw this same level of commitment when it came to putting their clothes away, finishing up homework, reading a book or just generally focusing one tenth of their attention to the words coming out of my mouth as they do to the zombies trying to eat them or the football players running on electronic fields of green.
Gone are the days of carefree casual communication. When my boys walk in from school, they drop their backpacks and head straight for their devices like homing pigeons drawn by some unconscious motivator. I try to intervene with small talk – Hey, how was your day? Anyone want a snack? What happened in such and such class? – and general fussing about but they swat me away with nods and non-communicative grunts.
I consider ripping devices from their little paws and demanding attention, have in fact done it many times but now I’m trained and generally sigh and shuffle off and wait till they’ve had their fix. I’ve seen addiction and they’ve just gone through 8 hours of withdrawal. It seems cruel not to give them 15 minutes.
These days it seems children and teens and their devices go hand in hand. Where they go, it goes and communication goes out the window. I can’t even say it’s just about the younger generation. We middle-aged folk are similarly attached, yet we were around before microwaves, ATM’s and computers and we still know how to use a pot, get money from a teller and write freehand. We hold our books to our hearts but lug Kindles in our bags. We still have CD’s and even cassettes stored away, if nowhere else but in our brains. So yes, we are attached to our technology but we know how to live without them, because we have.
But the kids have not.
The iGeneration is all about technology, and communication without personal contact. I’d like to blame them for my oldest son’s questionable social skills but I can’t. He’s as naturally shy as my other son is naturally social and my youngest is somewhere in between. It has nothing to do with the technology.
And so it goes. Every morning, sleep still on the brain, coffee in hand, my oldest gets into the car and we head off to school. I immediately pepper him with questions about his day while he answers only to the device in hand.
I sigh, turn on some music, sip my coffee and shake my head as I bob along to the new CBS FM, no more golden oldies, just recent oldies for getting oldies like me. I pull to the curb and he shoves his phone away. “Bye Mama,” He says, and before he gets out allows me to push the hair away from his eyes then flashes me a gorgeous heart stopping grin.
All is not lost.
I guess that’s why I’m glad that computer games started being popular when my son was a bit older. When he came from grammar school we chatted and watched programs together like “Gilligan’s Island” or “Get Smart” and had conversations over cookies and milk.
Video games were in their infancy and when he got his first Nintendo he was hooked. But not as much as most kids.
Today, as 21 he loves his laptop and iPad, but sometimes we still grab an episode or two of “MASH” for old times sake!
I know. Today is so different but hopefully we find the balance between watching life and actually living it. 🙂
I so feel your pain!!!! My teenager is now not only connected to his phone but has his headphones on so much that if I hear, “what?” one more time I may really lose it. I have made rules about how much they can be on their stuff, but like you I do let them a little time when they get home. Also with the teen, it really is a part of their social fabric. And, I too miss the old CBS format. It’s just not the same listening to songs that I knew in high school and married before children days and calling them oldies. Yikes!
Right?? What’s with the oldies being songs from the freaking 80’s and 90’s???!
I found my boys unwilling to talk to me in their teens, but now with the oldest living on his own, we’ve started having real conversations again. It is lovely being able to talk as two adults.
It’ll happen. I know it. And it makes me appreciate our moments when we get them – usually at bedtime when I just want them to go to sleep! 😉
Perhaps Apple made their devices a little too intuitive. Even my toddler has been able to navigate through displays. Its no wonder then that my boys are so ready to grab at technology. They get to feel like they are in control and in charge. Obviously this sort of thinking has to be squashed immediately.
totally!! you do have to find the balance… you might appreciate my thoughts on that here… 😉
Oh yes, my 14 yo can barely manage to put her iPhone down. The up side is that she uses it to take amazing photos, and has a thriving IG account that is leading her to her professional calling of food styling.
Nice!! I love that! 🙂
Mine are the same way. For instance, as soon as his mother dropped him off this morning, C ran right to the TV and asked me to turn on the xbox. I, of course, made him give me love first, but then he went right on harping about his need to play xbox.
they’re addicted. and it’s not terrible within reason. it just has to be a balance. i mean, i spent half my childhood lost in a book – seemingly better, but escape not the less.
I understand completely. And it’s the time of year where it gets dark almost as soon as I get home…
So cute!! I love your boys so much. I feel like i know them!
Ha!! Thank you!! The beach picture was yesterday. We went for a hike nearby since it’s still nice out. When you come to new york to do press for your book, you’ll come over for ice cream and a run! 🙂
Ugh, my kids (4 and 5) are already starting with the screen addition.
kids these days… 😉
I love your posts!! They are so sweet, beautifully written!
Sent from my iPad
that is so nice of you to say! thank you! 🙂
Yes, they are addicted. Not sure how you wean them off of it. Though, they are doing great in school and all other matters. So maybe it’s not too bad. Don’t bring the devices Saturday-we’ll keep busy with lots of other stuff. Sent from iCloud
yes, my boys are very active in sports and do very well in school, so i can’t begrudge them their time. it’s all about balance..
I can relate to this. I have three girls who are beginning to demand for more electronic hours. But I am glad we made it a rule of not allowing electronics during drive to school and back. They’re still young so enforcing it is easy but I dread the day they get their own handphones and enforcing this rule would be challenge then. Stopping from yeah-write-me, A cuppa for my thoughts.
hey there! nice to meetcha! and it can be extremely annoying talking to people who aren’t listening but as long as they do well in school and are active and all that, they’re allowed their toys.
Hi! Just making sure you knew in order to participate in the crowd fave vote and the writing contest, you need to fill out this form, please. http://yeahwrite.me/yeah-write-november-writing-contest-entry-form/
okay. i just did. i didn’t know if i thought it was a winner piece.
I always enjoy your writing.
This is the story of my boys. So different from when I grew up!
no kidding – but my head was always in a book…
Awh – great post! I liked the line “just recent oldies for getting oldies like me.” 🙂
thanks. it’s a good station. 🙂
You just described my boys. I almost feel sorry for them as I have NEVER ever had any interest in gaming–even in the Atari days-so they are exactly right when they tell me I just don’t get it!
true. we don’t get it.
As the mother of two teenage boys, I felt every second of this post! Their capacity to believe they’re still engaged with the world while headphones are hanging out of one ear, is astounding. Delightfully described, and I love your conclusion of hope.
thank you for your wonderful comment. it’s a whole different world!
I wonder about this a lot. As someone who stubbornly refuses to set aside my actual books in favor of a Kindle, but who is totally lost without my phone, I think about what it will be like to raise kids in this new world. Will they even know what it’s like to turn the pages of a book? Everything is so different from when we grew up, and I can’t decide if this kind of progress is better or worse. Probably a little bit of both, right?
Definitely both. As my son reminded this morning while I was driving him to school and he was semi-ignoring me with his phone, he really doesn’t play it all that much because he doesn’t have all that much down time between school, sports, homework and there’s friends and family stuff, so i guess, i have to give him his due.
I know just how this goes. I have no teenagers, just a gamer husband. And nothing, I mean NOTHING can distract when he’s on a raid. It’s not just the generation, it’s the technology. They’re getting smarter, designing addiction into the device, and moreso, into the game.
it’s all addictive! i will never play candy crush or any game, because there’s too much distraction from doing the things i need to do to begin with! i can’t handle any more.
The schools are not on our side in this. They get them on the computer playing games called iCivic and IXL etc from elementary school. Even in 1st grade, they assign reading on the computer. The school libraries all use smart boards and computers. They want them to turn things in on googledocs rather than with paper.
I do love my smartphone, though. Even if I don’t let my kids play games on it. 🙂
you’re so right. it’s a conspiracy! somehow google has infiltrated the school system! 😉 it’s a techno new world. hopefully we all find the balance before no one knows how to speak with one another. 🙂
Exactly! They know how to be snarky, but the range of emotion is not extensive. 🙂
Wow -thank you for being so frank in your blog 💐As an overly nurturing stay at home mom of a 20 year old daughter in college and a 16 year old son -my heart is aching with the recognition of how precious these years are .How privileged we are to witness the minute changes in their development -to savor the moment -to be present (even though they clearly aren’t -being so distracted by technology)As the saying goes ,”The days may be long ,but the years rush by “.These are precious days -and we have the most important job in the world .To prepare the next generation to be independent ,balanced,kind,caring and decent and competent members of society .And to let go control and trust that we have done things right and that if we let go -as my daughter assures me -they “won’t crash”BTW-my two are the most amazing human beings !!Thank you
Thank you for your comment. It’s all so true. Sometimes time just moves so fast, you can’t believe it. And yes, it’s all a gift. 🙂